Laura Miller is an architect whose research examines the visual rhetoric of various display apparatuses that mix architecture, landscape, interior, and some form of human or animal figure in their construction. Hybrids of vastly different scales and materials, these artifacts include religious reliquaries, natural-history dioramas, and crime-scene replicas. Her work explores the cultural conditions through which the visual rhetoric of such artifacts may be understood. Miller is an associate professor of architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.
During her fellowship, Miller will examine a set of domestic scenes associated with the life and work of Frances Glessner Lee: the interiors Glessner Lee created in her miniature crime-scene dioramas, the “Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death,” and those found in her childhood home, H. H. Richardson’s Glessner House. Encompassing a period from the late nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries, Glessner Lee’s interiors manifest romantic idealizations of the domestic scene, expressed in utopian and dystopian extremes. Miller’s analysis will concentrate on two discourses that most influenced Glessner Lee: the emerging disciplines of criminology and forensic science and popular and scholarly handbooks on domestic design. In her analysis and interpretation of the domestic scene, Miller will combine the techniques of the architect with methods of forensic observation.
Miller received her master’s degree in architecture from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and her BA in architecture from Iowa State University. She has received a number of awards for her design work, including a Progressive Architecture Design Citation.